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UNHCR Global Appeal 1999 - Djibouti


UNHCR Global Appeal 1999 - Djibouti

2 December 1998

Basic Facts

What we do

Provide protection and multi-sectoral assistance to Somali, Ethiopian and other refugees residing in the two camps and to those in Djibouti-ville.

Who we help

Some 21,000 refugees accommodated in Ali-Ade (11,000) and Holl-Holl (10,000) refugee camps. Most of the refugees in the camps are of Somali origin (20,000); the remainder (1,000) are from Ethiopia. Some of the nearly 2,000 refugees living in Djibouti-ville also receive assistance from UNHCR.

Our requirements

US$ 2,379,919

Our office


Our partners

Office National d'Assistance aux Réfugiés et Sinistrés (ONARS), Association of Medical Doctors of Asia (AMDA), UNESCO/PEER, United Nations Volunteers (UNV), Eglise Protestante Evangelique de Djibouti (EPED).


Since the early 1980s, the civil war in Somalia has prompted thousands of people to leave the country. Many of those from the north-west of the country sought refuge in Djibouti. Initially, Somali refugees were accommodated in three refugee camps: Assamo, Ali-Ade, and Holl-Holl. Assamo camp was closed in April 1998 after the 5,000 Somali refugees living there were transferred to the two other camps. As the camps are located in a rocky and semi-desert area that supports little, if any, crop production, the refugees are wholly dependent on external support for food.

Although north-west Somalia is now relatively peaceful, refugees have been reluctant to return for fear of landmines that may have been planted in returnee areas in the north of Somaliland. The extent of the mining is unknown. Nonetheless, at least 450 refugees who came from other parts of north-west Somalia have registered for voluntary repatriation. Some Ethiopian refugees living dispersed in urban areas have requested UNHCR's assistance with voluntary repatriation.

Djibouti is proud of its seaport which forms part of Djibouti-ville. The port handles import and export commodities for landlocked Ethiopia. This is the main revenue-generating enterprise for the Government as agriculture production is minimal. Most of the fresh produce consumed in Djibouti arrives by train from Ethiopia. The inter-dependent link between the two countries is clear. It is therefore not surprising that refugees from Ethiopia find their way to Djibouti, as well. Given the country's scarce resources, the Government is often uncomfortable with an influx of foreigners who then compete with nationals for those meagre resources. Asylum- seekers are not exempt from this categorization; so periodically UNHCR is called upon to help relocate urban-dwelling foreigners whom the Government classifies as "refugees", to designated refugee camps.


UNHCR is promoting voluntary repatriation of Somali refugees to north-west Somalia. This programme is hampered, however, by the delays in demining activities in the returnee areas. Resettlement is also considered an option for some refugees. Women have been resettled under the women-at-risk programme in the United States of America, Canada and Australia.

Though Djibouti has been a country of asylum for Ethiopian and Somali refugees for more than two decades, the economic difficulties it faces today render it incapable of adequately accommodating significant numbers of asylum- seekers. Even those asylum-seekers with family or clan members living in Djibouti can no longer depend on their relations' assistance. UNHCR is therefore negotiating the revitalization of the National Eligibility Commission to expedite status determination procedures for asylum-seekers and determine who should benefit from UNHCR's assistance.


All basic services, including food, water, education, health care, skills training, and are provided to the refugee camps under UNHCR's assistance programme.

Women and Children

The number of available places in the camps' primary schools has been increased to accommodate the growing number of school-aged children in the camps. Many of the children who have completed their primary education want to repatriate to north-west Somalia to continue their studies.

Refugee women have organized women's committees in which information useful to the entire refugee community is disseminated. Women groups have also started sewing and knitting classes. Trained birth attendants are the backbone of the community-health extension service in the camps and are essential to maternal and child health programmes. UNHCR, through its operating partners Association of Medical Doctors of Asia (AMDA) and Office National d'Assistance aux Réfugiés et Sinistrés (ONARS), ensures that the birth of refugee children are registered.


An interruption in assistance to the camp refugees, even for one month, could result in a humanitarian disaster. Isolated in inhospitable conditions, the camps are completely dependent on continued assistance.

Budget US$

ActivitiesGeneral ProgrammesSpecial Programmes
Domestic Needs/Household Support179,61545,023
Water Supply32,638
Shelter/Other Infrastructures4,972
Community Services67,846
Legal Assistance/Protection13,20832,525
Agency Operational Support218,474
Programme Delivery Costs*602,200134,813
Administrative Support Costs227,800107,406
Total GP + SP2,379,919

* Includes costs for protection, monitoring and coordination.